One Thousand Words or So

Slice, Shice, Thice, and Chice

I nearly got stymied yesterday, both with my words and my images. I have two overriding daily goals: one thousand words and one image, both posted online, either all or some for the words. It’s really not much to ask, but on the other hand, it is.

When I moved to Denver, about eight months after I graduated from college in New Hampshire, I signed up with a temporary agency, and one of my first assignments was at an asset management company that had an office on the ninth floor of the Gas and Electric Building on 15th and Champa. It is a beautiful building, lit up at night with thousands of bulbs outlining its floors. I ended up taking a full-time administrative assistant job with the company and spent many days in my office on the penultimate floor.* I loved most of the people I worked with in that office. They were fun and easy-going, and a decided contrast to the uptight, self-important president and her minions in the California headquarters. Go figure. Being hundreds of miles away from them, though, did not insulate us from their manage-by-crisis ways. There was always the phone, the fax machine, the modem (when it was new and amazing), and occasional visits. I guess it was good training for life and motherhood, although, unfortunately for my oldest kids, the lessons I learned didn’t take hold until after the fourth was born, after I kicked gluten out of my diet, and gained some much needed perspective, acquired in large part from reading about the sufferings of saints and martyrs, Holocaust victims, and prisoners in the Soviet gulag.

I remember that the president of that asset management company was in town my first week there as a temp. She needed a letter to get out the door as soon as possible. After typing up it up on the computer and printing a copy for her to proof, she made changes, so I typed them in and printed another copy for proofing. It still wasn’t perfect, so she stood behind my chair, read over my shoulder, and told me which sentences she wanted reworded and how. Perhaps I should recall that situation whenever I start to feel anxious, because if I could handle that without breaking a sweat, why should I be afraid of anything?

When Dennis moved to Denver nearly a year after I did and was looking for work, my wonderful boss, Jan, hired him as a temp, and he reported to me—talk about putting a relationship to the test. Thankfully, that (his temporary position, not our relationship) was short-lived.

The snow is coming down fast, as promised. Not only am I working to get this written and published early in the day so I can get to bed at a reasonable hour, I’m also concerned about posting before any possible power outages. I’m not exactly expecting one (or dreading it), but you just never know, and there’s precedent.

A little while ago, before the precipitation began falling, I was more concerned with ice than snow, specifically the two or three inches of ice covering the driveway. You know how you always hear about Eskimos having dozens of words for snow? Well, I think I’m going to come up with different words for ice. Shice could describe the stuff that gets shaved off the edge of your shovel or ice chopper/scraper like the stuff you find in a Sno-Cone. I dealt with some of that today. Then there’d be slice, which is what you have when the ice breaks up in slivers. It’s almost as annoying as shice, and dealing with it today nearly drove me inside shortly after I had gotten started on my task. I think thice might be the word for the thin ice that tops puddles and makes a very satisfying cracking noise when you step on it. Chice is the choicest ice. It’s the stuff that breaks into large chunks, some so big that it takes two strong teenagers to lift, carry, and throw it atop the snow bordering the icy driveway. Which type of ice you get is very dependent on the temperature. Yesterday and today, it was so cold that most of what I encountered was shice and slice. Warmer temps are needed to get chice.

While I was out there this afternoon, trying to slide my scraper between the shice/slice and asphalt, I was thinking about how much my arms and hands ached from doing it yesterday. Then I recalled what Viktor Frankl had to deal with in the concentration camps: digging frozen dirt all day long with his half-starved body covered only in a thin, striped uniform and ill-fitting boots that had holes in them. Compared to that, who was I to complain?

I felt sorry for myself nevertheless and was about to give up, when Sam came out the front door with a pickaxe in hand. He renewed my resolve, and I got back to work, feeling especially grateful when the scraper met a wall of chice it could get under, rather than a slope of slice it just slid up. Sam worked the pickaxe, but was disappointed to find the ice not to his liking and impeding his progress. I think he and I would have put our tools away if Henry had not come out the front door when he did. He took over with the pickaxe, and Sam set to shoveling up the chunks of ice we had managed to dislodge. The three of us worked together for nearly an hour, and I was happy that we managed to remove enough ice near the top of the driveway that there was less than a car-length of it to have to slide over before the tires hit pavement. The other side of the circular driveway gets more sun, so a great expanse of it is clear up to the road. On the side we attacked, the drive goes straight down to where the garage sits beneath the house, but it also forks about a third of the way down into the curve in front of the house. Clearing that section where it forks is important, because it lets you stop and turn if you’re sliding down from the top, or gives you space to get a grip on your way up from the bottom.

Well, I hit my quota, and then some. I’ll grab a snack, proof this and get it posted. Then I’ll start to think about capturing a photo and getting it tweaked and posted.

 


*I found this photo on Flickr. The building was never lit with purple when I worked there. My office window was in the row beneath the arched ones at the top. I had the second window from the left on the side that faces 15th Street. It was nice digs for an admin, or an Assistant Business Operations Officer (ABOO), my official title. When the president was in town, I often had to accompany her on weekend shopping expeditions. One was spent in Cherry Creek, where she purchased a framed poster of Van Gogh’s Irises for my office.

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